Are you tired of constantly receiving calls from phone numbers you don't recognize only to be asked to buy something or provide personal information so the caller can “help you”? You’re not alone.

As the world seems to be shrinking, and communicating becomes easier and cheaper than ever, we find ourselves in a time of increasing telephone scams.

Scammers use a variety of tactics to try to get our money or personal information. The health care industry has seen increasing costs for goods and services; scammers may play off of that to try to sell us a product they say is at an extremely discounted price. Unfortunately, if we buy it, the product probably won’t arrive.

Another tactic is spoofing caller IDs to make it look like it’s a local call, but the call could be from anywhere.

Scammers may also try to gather personal information from you, which can be used for identity or financial fraud. These types of calls may start with the caller saying something like, “We detected an issue with your account or with your personal computer.” But, the call quickly leads to questions about your account numbers, credit card information, personal information or access to your PC. 

So, what can we do to become less vulnerable to these scams? Voicemail has become my best friend. When my phone shows a number I don't recognize, I let the call go to voicemail. If the caller is legitimate, they will probably leave a message. When I do need to speak with someone over the phone, here are some basic rules I follow:

» Make the call to a known number. If I receive a message from my bank, insurance company or other business, I'll call the number on the back of my debit card, insurance card or on my statement — not the number provided in the message. That way, I can be sure of who I’m calling.

» If in doubt, don't. If the deal seems too good to be true, it's likely a scam.

» Never allow the caller to access to your computer, and don’t click on a link. These are both ways scammers may access personal information on your computer.

To learn more about how scams occur, how to protect yourself and how to report scams, the Federal Trade Commission has a great resource on phone scams.

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